Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Building a New Potting Bench

Building a new potting bench has been on my mind for at least a year. When we moved here I threw together a makeshift potting bench that cost me nothing in materials out of an old palette and some scrap lumber. It did well for what it was but I decided that this year I would upgrade. I used many of the old materials for my new potting bench minus the palette. The gaps between the slats were problematic and I really wanted something more efficient. It's not finished yet but most of the construction is complete. When finished the potting bench will have a removable top to access a dirt container, a shelf underneath, a sink built into the top surface, and a series of shelves for holding containers. Here's how its coming along after two work sessions.

The bench is kind of tilted at the moment because of the rocks underneath. I'll level it when I get a chance. There is a planting bed to the left of the bench and a dryer vent to the right which helped to determine the length of five feet for the potting bench. The width is around 30 inches deep as is the height. It's made from pressure treated lumber that I plan on staining with the leftover stain from the arbor project. I considered doing the 48 Hour Challenge with a potting bench but decided to do it on a project that didn't exist yet rather than one that I already had even if my old bench was looking rather sad. There is room in the front to either add cabinet doors or a nice curtain made from outdoor fabric. I would rather have doors but in a pinch curtains will do. A shelf to hold more pots is in the also in the long range plan.

Underneath the bench I've put together small platform for the soil container. This will get the soil container close enough to the potting bench surface to be accessible through the top. The platform is removable and retains a little spot for storing small things. Maybe all those 2" pots I keep collecting!


Here is the removable top surface made from decking. I still need to add a hinge and a handle for easy soil access.


On this side is where the sink will go. I'm trying something special with the surface area around the sink that I'll tell you about later - when I install the sink. I think my plan will be rather creative but it all depends on my execution!


I wouldn't mind incorporating a water proof drawer system for storing tools but that isn't in the immediate plans. I hope the sink will add some convenience for outdoor cooking as well as gardening. What elements would you put on your ultimate potting bench?

Monday, June 29, 2009

Red Foxes in the Garden

Last week I caught my first glimpse of something I have never seen before, a fox in my backyard.  There was a little doubt in my mind when I saw it.  Was it some sort of dog that resembled a fox or did I really seen one?  I've never been fortunate enough to see one in the wild just in zoo enclosures but I today I can definitely confirm what I thought I saw last week. We have two red foxes living in our yard.


Last year we had a little mascot named Murry. I never really spoke about him at all but he was here munching on rotten tomatoes that weren't good enough for us to eat. I would toss them out into the yard from the garden and when I wasn't around Murry the groundhog would saunter over and eat some garden tomatoes.  He lived in a little hole on the slope alongside our house.  You might ask why if I have foxes am I talking about groundhogs? Foxes like to make their homes in abandoned groundhog holes, hollow logs, and other similar spots. We haven't seen Murry in a long time, since last fall before his hibernation. Whether he moved on or passed away, I can't say, but in the current Spring Hill, TN housing market there are always homes looking for new residents!

This explains some other things too.  Over the winter months (Jan.-Feb. mostly) I remember hearing odd sounds outside at night. I had assumed it was coyotes off in the distance but now I realize that maybe it was the mating calls of the foxes.  They mate during that time of year and new kits are born in the spring. When the kits are about 3 months old the begin to learn how to hunt. I wonder if we'll be fortunate enough to see some young foxes scampering through the yard? Here's a quick slideshow with some pictures I took this morning:



Here's one of the cropped pictures of the foxes from the slide show above. The tall ears, fuzzy tail, and black fur on the legs are a dead giveaway.

  

The two foxes did a whole lap around our yard. They must have been having fun. The shot below was from inside our kitchen looking out at the backyard. Unfortunately all these pictures were taken through a pain of glass otherwise they might have been more clear.


The foxes ran right through our yard and into a neighbor's but I could still see them through the trees. From the information I have read about red foxes they generally don't bother cats and almost never tangle with dogs. As long as they aren't destructive or threatening I'm content to let them live where they choose.  They are definitely more unique than the animals we usually see around here! 
As the telling of every tale/tail must do this one has now arrived at ...
 
...the end!

For a little more on Red Foxes visit the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Challenge for Any Glove Manufacturer

Today I'm issuing a challenge to any glove maker, manufacturer, or garden handware retailer: Make me a glove that lasts longer than 5 months! I'm throwing down the gauntlet, or the garden gloves as the case may be. So far I have not met a pair of gloves that lasts more than a few months. This pair of gloves was purchased back in February but began unraveling at the seams about six weeks ago. You can see the sad and sorry state this pair of gardener handware is in below.


I really like this type of glove but I fear they are destined to bring me constant disappointment. The leather palms are tough and protect against sharp weeds and rocks while the flexible fabric on the back of the hand lets your hand breathe better than it would in pure leather gloves. The problem is they just don't last and its not just this pair of gloves. Last year I went through four pairs of gloves and wore holes into all of them. One pair was like these, but the others were made from leather. This year I've blown through two pairs of gloves and I still have several more months to go before the garden season is over. Is this normal or am I just really hard on gloves?

What I need are gloves made from Kevlar. Something bullet proof, or at least Dave-proof. Rubber gloves don't last, leather gloves get worn out, fabric gloves are practically worthless as they allow sharp thorns to pierce all the way through to the hand. Perhaps I really need that gauntlet, steel reinforced gloves with chainmail for flexibility. That wouldn't be work either; too many holes and the hot summer sun would grill my hands like hot dogs on the Fourth of July!

So what's the answer? Is there a glove maker out there who has the perfect set of gloves that can take the wear and tear of this gardener? Is there a true gardener's glove that will last through at least six months?


What would make that perfect set of garden gloves? 
  • It would hold up to regular daily weeding. 
  • It would resist the rigors of occasional stone and paving stone lifting, moving, and setting. 
  • It would be flexible so that manual finger dexterity was not severely reduced. 
  • It would turn away thorns and briers making picking fruit from raspberries and blackberries or pruning roses easy work. 
  • It would be resistant to water preventing it from hardening up into a permanent claw. 
  • It would keep all my fingers inside!

So tell me Mr. Glove Manufacturer, does my glove exist?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The White Pigeon

Today I had an odd thing happen. I was working in the garage when all of a sudden something slammed into the wall above the garage door. How a bird could mistake a wall for open air I don't really know. Of course many birds aren't exactly the sharpest tools in the shed. After all where else would the expression "bird brained" originate? So I walked over to investigate to see the first pigeon visit to our property.


OK so what's so unusual about a pigeon? We can see them everyday under highway overpasses and in large cities pretty much anywhere you look the aren't really anything unusual but this one was sporting something interesting.

Just look at his legs and you will see a fine piece of jewelry adorning his ankle. This particular pigeon was tagged by someone this year for the purposes of tracking his movements and migrations. At least I assume that's the case. I attempted to catch the pigeon multiple times so I could get a better look at that tag around his ankle but I only go a hold of him once. I held him very loosely because I didn't want to hurt him accidentally and he broke free and flew to freedom. The only bits of information I was able to gather on this pigeon were the numbers 4326 and the year 2009. There were more numbers on the tag but I never really got a good look.


This bird managed to find himself in my garage at least twice, danced on the top of my car, left a present on the car, and ran through the front garden. He was a busy bird, of course he was being chased by a gardener intent on looking at his feet, you'd run too wouldn't you?


In the end the bird flew off into the trees but he left me wondering where is he going and where did he come from?

Friday, June 26, 2009

Growing The Home Garden

The time has come! I finally purchased my own domain name this week and got everything all set up. Hopefully since I'm still using Blogger and everything is still hosted there everything should function as normal. If there are any issues please let me know but you should be able to use all the old links that you may have made in your blog roll. In the future you can point any links to the new domain.

www.GrowingTheHomeGarden.com wasn't my first choice but it was the closest I could come to the name of this blog that I've used since October of 2007. Unfortunately I missed out on the name I was targeting and another blog now has it. Sometimes things just don't work out the way you want them to.

Truthfully the domain name of this site is Growing on me, if you'll forgive the pun. After all it is what this site was started to document my adventures in setting up our home garden. It's come a long way since we bought the house in February of 2007 and its still growing. That's the fun thing about gardening, don't you think? It never stops changing, evolving, or growing.


And we still have a long way to grow!

Q&A: Leaf Spot Disease

Dave,

I had a Yoshino Cherry Tree planted in late May and I'm noticing holes in most of the leaves. I am asking you if you know what pest may be attacking it...and if it is under attack, what treatment does it need?

The answer to your question is leaf spot disease, not exactly a pest of the insect kind but rather a fungus. The fungus forms little brown-black spots on the leaves that eventually fall away from the leaves which leaves the leaves with an extremely spotty appearance. It's almost like the neighbor's kid was out with an automatic BB gun. If the fungus spreads, like fungi do, it will cause enough holes to interrupt water from getting to the leaves which causes the leaves to yellow and eventually drop off. On healthy established trees this may not be a big problem but younger, newly planted trees may have more of an issue. 

Once leaf spot disease is established you can't reverse the process, but you can prevent it from spreading. A fungicidal spray may be effective in prevent it form spreading. There's even an organic control using baking soda that should do the trick. The leaves will remain damaged until new one's replace them in the spring. 


Prevention is important but during the hot and dry months the chances of it spreading further are slim. Warm and wet springs provide a great environment for leaf spot disease to thrive. Good watering practices can ensure that it won't continue to spread. Water at the base of the tree and not the leaves. Also clear out fallen infected leaves to prevent spores from finding new "spots" to roost!

For more information check out these sites:

Oregon State University Extension 
Univeristy of Missouri

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Anticipating the Vegetables

I just can't wait. Pretty soon the tomatoes will be ripening and we'll be pulling them from the vine as fast as we can. Unfortunately the hard part of gardening is learning patience for we still have to wait. It takes time for things to grow and mature and you have to grow to appreciate the process from seed to table. Once those vegetables come in from the garden for dinner you realize that the wait was most definitely worth it. Too bad it took so long!

While we are anticipating the harvest let's take a look and see what new vegetables are coming up!

The cayenne peppers are beginning to form. We used them in a salsa and in several stir fries. One important note when handling cayenne peppers, the insides can burn your skin!  Wear gloves if you have them or be very careful when dicing.  I've also used the Cayenne pepper to make a deer repellent that seems to work fairly well. It just needs reapplied after rains.



The yellow pear tomatoes are forming their characteristic shape. Pretty soon they will turn yellow and live up to their name.  These are new to use this year and are one of many varieties of heirloom tomatoes you could choose from. My plan is to save the seeds this year to save on my seed budget in the future.

And I have one more star in the garden to show you, my 'Moon and Stars' watermelon!  It's small now but you can see the stars beginning to appear on the green backdrop of a watermelon sky. 





Learning patience is a hard lesson!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Hillside Garden Pathway

While I haven't written about it in quite some time we have a large hillside that so far we've left pretty natural. Over the last two years I've gradually cut into the slope in an attempt to cut down on the worst of all weeds, ragweed. Right now the slope has large pathways cut into the top that have natural island beds filled with Queen Anne's Lace, blackberries, and sassafras as well as an vast assortment of other weeds and wildflowers. Eventually I hope to add some fruit trees to make a small orchard on the slope since it seems to be a great location for fruit trees to thrive. For now though I'm tinkering around with a few things like this little pathway.

It's located near out driveway and leads up the slope to the larger areas that I've already cleared. Clearing it out was a bit of a challenge. I hauled our push lawnmower up the cleared slope and gradually worked my way down to where the entry area of the pathway is. As a kid I used to run around at my friend's house whose fields were filled with pathways around natural areas. I've always wanted to have a maze of pathways in the backyard ever since. Sometimes impressions made in our childhood stick with us for a long time!

It's a little hard to see in the picture and still a little narrow for traveling but it's a start to what I hope will become a neat feature. Along the hillside is a small trench that is designed to carry water into the backyard and not into our driveway. I'm planning on building a small platform bridge similar to what I put together for my patio area. Then I'll piece together a staircase/pathway to make traveling up the hill a little easier. The pathway curves pretty quickly disguising the way ahead.  If you ask me what makes a good pathway I would say anticipation!  People walking down the pathway will either anticipate seeing something around a curve or will  see a planting or feature that will draw their eyes in to see more.

Along this stretch of pathway you can see two plants that I hope to leave in the area in some fashion while I incorporate other plants into the landscape: Blackberries and Queen Anne's Lace.  Last summer and fall as I was clearing away parts of the slope I made sure to avoid cutting down the blackberry stems. It was my hope that they would eventually produce some wild blackberries for cobbler or preserves. Blackberries and other brambles have biennial tops that die back after fruiting but have perennial root systems. By leaving the blackberry stems alone last year I may have given myself a nice crop of blackberries. That is if the birds don't get to my crop first!

I like the Queen Anne's Lace for two reasons. One it looks great and two it houses quite a few beneficial insects! 

I'm not in a rush to get this project done but over time I'll show you its progress. My number one goal right now with this pathway is to keep it open until fall when the cooler weather makes hard work just a little bit easier. The next step will be to build the little bridge.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Going Topless

This weekend we were in West Tennessee attending a friends wedding and took a side trip to visit some of my wife's relatives. While there I saw a horrifying site. At my wife's grandmother's house is a wonderful old oak tree that casts a welcoming shade on hot summer days, or at least it used to. On the right is the tree as it stood in 2005. Unfortunately I don't have a wider angle shot to show you but I think you will agree that it is a beautiful tree with nicely proportioned branch angles.

Typically on trees branches that extend outward from the trunk at a horizontal angle are strong branches. Vase like shapes (like those in my least favorite tree the Bradford pear) tend to have weak branches since the branches are exerting more force where they join up with the trunk. They also peel away large pieces of bark along the trunk when they get damaged in storms.

Just wait until you see the way the tree looks now.


Yes this is the very same tree four years later. The important thing to notice in this picture is not the ugly mangled stubbiness left behind by a tree topper's chainsaw, it's all the new growth emanating from every possible bud. This tree will regain much of its lost foliage within 2-3 years, which is very fast. All the roots are still there and the tree will work overtime to reestablish what it lost. (How would you like to lose over 1/3 of your total body?) Fast growth means weak growth, and lots of it. But that's not the only issue of concern when a tree is topped. The wounds are gaping holes just waiting for diseases. Consider what happens when you limb up a small tree or a small tree gets a wound. The smaller the wound the faster it heals but it can only heal as far as the current seasons growth will allow it. That small tree will grow over most wounds in a single season but many of the branches on this tree were 10-16 inches in diameter, they won't heal anytime soon and could be several years if ever which opens the door to disease and decay.

I understand why the tree was a concern. It was planted very close to the house and had large limbs that extended over the roof. The fear of a large branch coming through the house is definitely no laughing matter, but think of what happens now. The new branches are significantly weaker than the ones that were on the tree for the last 20 years and will eventually grow over the house. If diseases, insects, and rot don't fester in the wounds of the tree and it survives long enough those branches will again be a concern. Then it will need to be pruned again, oh wait this wasn't pruning. Pruning is what should have happened. A licensed arborist should have been hired to determine what branches should be taken out. The arborist would not have pruned out more than 1/3 of the branches at any one time and it would not have resulted in the stubby giant oak that you see in the picture. If you need an arborist to take a look at your trees please call your local county extension agency, they are there to help you...use them!

The other option would be to remove the tree completely and plant a new smaller tree in its place. One that wouldn't extend branches over the roof of the house or pose any threat of damage. A redbud might have been a great one to place there. This is why it is so important to plant trees in the right spot. You may not be concerned with it today when it's an elegant little sapling but when it becomes a graceful giant you will be!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

What's Happening in the Vegetable Garden?

It's time for another look into the vegetable garden. To say that things are growing well is an understatement. The raised beds filled with mounds of organic material like grass clippings, newspaper, composted cow manure and good old compost are doing the trick. In many cases the plants are exceeding their boundaries and covering walkways. I need to confine those vegetables in question to their beds through additional stakes to create some sort of border.


The cucumbers are climbing the homemade trellis I put together. It's nothing fancy just reused fencing material and a few branches. I like to use materials I have on hand to help lower costs. Underneath the trellis is our cantaloupe stretching outside of the bed.  you can even see the flowers poking up through the foliage. I can't wait to see some melons forming on the vines.


Speaking of melons, do you remember the little 'Moon and Stars' Watermelon plants I showed you a couple weeks ago? They are doing nicely! We have a couple flowers but no melons forming yet.


By far the most revered fruit of our vegetable garden are the tomatoes! We have some nice round green tomatoes ready for ripening. I do only minimal suckering on my tomato plants. If you sucker the plants you tend to get larger tomatoes, if you don't sucker you get more tomatoes of a smaller size. I believe smaller tomatoes are actually tastier than the larger ones and I like having lots of tasty tomatoes so my choice was simple!
  
I am a little disappointed with the zucchini and the squash. We seem to be getting some blossom end rot which is caused by a calcium deficiency. I'll try to take a few pictures of that soon so I can show off that nasty problem. It's correctable with some special care. Often its because of irregular watering that can't move calcium through to the new cells on the fruit. This could be caused by an imbalance in the pH of the soil and sometimes a little lime helps. That's one reason why testing your soil is a great idea!  I had this issue last year so I took a few Tums and after my stomach settled I dissolved them in water then watered the squash plants. Tums are made with calcium and they seemed to help the squash!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Beginning of a New Garden

It may not look like much now but just wait and see what it turns into. This is the way most of my gardens start, one small little spot in the yard that projects an image into my mind. Can you see what this might turn into?



Maybe not but I don't blame you,

right now all that is there is a teeny maple tree (who incidentally would be five times as tall if it were not for deer and rabbits) and three little Russian sage plants I made from hardwood cuttings.

This is how most of my gardens start, small. Small plants and small areas. The reason is simple and twofold, time and money. In the long range plan I have this garden will play an important part in our backyard landscape but for now I have too many other areas to concentrate on growing. The border garden, the corner shade garden, the front garden, the back garden, the vegetable garden (maybe one day I'll be more creative and come up with better names but descriptions make it easier to see the locations), etc. Each of these previously established areas needs weeded, tended, watered, and planted and there are only so many hours in the day to start new gardens.

This small garden was easy to put together. The maple was planted in the fall 2007, (yes that's right 2007 and it's still that small, thanks to the deer), it was one of several Arbor Day trees that I got through the mail. The Russian sage plants were completely free since they were produced from cuttings. They are small but will grow quickly and hopefully will be in bloom by August. I planted them very close together mostly because I suspected at least one would be accidentally eaten by a rabbit before they realized they didn't like Russian sage. No bites have been taken as of yet. If the need should arise I'll transplant one or two in the spring.

To prepare the garden area I gathered grass clippings and piled them around to smother the grass underneath. Then I waited a couple weeks and planted the Russian sage plants. They grew a few inches then I added some compost to top dress the grass clippings and covered with hardwood mulch. I didn't do any real digging or even use newspapers this time, the grass clippings were enough to smother the grass. I spent time on it when I had opportunities to work.

Over time I'll enlarge the bed and it will start to become a defining border between out lawn area and a large shade area, that all depends if the deer let my trees grow! How do you start you gardens? Do you start small and build your garden gradually or do you complete the garden right from the start?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Few Garden Chores Accomplished

While the girls were at their grandparent's house today I was able to get quite a bit done in the yard. Here's the list of accomplishments in no particular order:
  • Picked a handful of beans (this morning.)
  • Mowed the yard with the riding mower, the trim mower and trimmed with the weedeater.
  • Mowed a new pathway into our slope area using the push mower. Yes that's the same one I nearly blew up last year if you're wondering! I hope to add a neat little staircase from reclaimed wood eventually. For now I'll just keep it trimmed and maybe I can get to that this fall.
  • Re-mulched and added some salvias to a front corner garden near the road. I also trained a morning glory to climb a twisting plant stake. It should turn into a big column of blooms soon!
  • Moved irises from the mailbox garden and the birdbath garden to the new border garden. (I need to show you that.) The irises in the birdbath garden were crowding out some coreopsis and coneflowers and needed to be divided.
  • Weeded and pulled an assortment of junk grasses from the vegetable garden. In the process I uprooted some onions that had gotten completely cover in weeds. I put them back in and covered them hopefully they will be fine. They are red onions, my favorite!
  • Planted various plants that were ready to go into the ground. Some were raised from cuttings like the penstemon, 3 salvias, crape myrtle and 2 Veronicas. While others were raised from seed like the lavender and a 'Blue Carpet' catmint.
  • Weeded anywhere I happened to see a rogue weed. When I get into weeding kicks I can just keep on going, there's always one more weed to pull and I have to consciously stop myself.
Like always there is so much more to do than has actually been accomplished. I still have a pile of mulch that I need to put in the gardens. Just outside of the vegetable garden is a halfway prepped spot with various plants in it that needs mulched and weeded. Maybe next week!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Artful Artemisia (Artemisia 'Powis Castle')

New to our garden this year 'Powis Castle' artemisia is proving to be a powerful perennial plant for foliage! I've always enjoyed artemisias for the silver foliage and really liked the 'Silver Mound' artemisia that we put in the front sidewalk garden so once I found this cultivar at a local nursery I thought I would give it a try. It has already spread to about 3 feet wide in its first season in the ground. 'Powis Castle' is more stout than tall.  It may be 18-24" tall right now and might get up to 3 feet tall.

It's nestled into our birdbath garden next to some 'Mystic Spires' Salvia. Then again nestled probably isn't the right word, it's taking over its location and almost crowding out the salvia.  Truthfully I don't mind if it takes over because it looks really cool. A little planting advice: give it some space!
And with the morning sunlight reflecting off the morning dew the silvery foliage almost appears to be frost. 


  
The Details on Artemisia 'Powis Castle':
 
'Powis Castle' Artemisia is a great perennial for zones 6-8 and likes a full sun location but can take partial shade. It can grow up to 3 feet tall with a diameter of 3-6 feet. Very impressive! Its flowers are insignificant and won't produce viable seed that will be true to the parent plant. All new plants of 'Powis Castle' come from cuttings. If your choice is pruning in the fall or spring, prune in the spring just before new growth occurs. With many perennials the foliage helps to protect the plant from frosts. According to Floridata it is believed to be been a hybrid between Artemisia arborescens and Artemisia absinthium. 

Monday, June 15, 2009

A Rain Garden Update

A while back (a real long while) I setup a rain garden to take care of a drainage issue on one part of our driveway. Rainwater was pooling in one area of our driveway because it had no where else to go. The grass and soil was higher than the driveway on the side the water should have been draining. The big problem was that anytime our cars were parked in the driveway after a rain there was standing water. Either I had to step into the water or learn to walk on water to get into the car (I'm just not good enough to figure that trick out). Since neither of these possibilities were feasible I came up with the rain garden. rain gardens can be made one of two ways: either sloping areas guide the water away from the problem spot along with a series of plantings to absorb the excess, or a sort of drainage tank is developed under the soil and covered then planted. I chose to dig a trench and a pit for the water to drain into then fill it halfway with gravel and the other half with soil. It worked very well. I've checked it after many heavy rains and found little to no standing water in the area.

Last year I never really got the garden going like I wanted. Daylilies that I planted never bloomed, zinnias were all over the place (way too many in my book), and many of the other plants were just too little to even be recognized. That's the way I garden though, plan for the future and not pay too much out of pocket! This year the rain garden is looking much more impressive, maybe not grande like the Lurie Garden that the Spring Flingers got to enjoy, but it's coming along nicely!


OK it's nowhere close to that famous garden but just wait until August when everything is in its peak bloom. Most of my summer perennials seem to put on their best displays in the heat of summer.

I have a couple forms of ornamental grasses in this area. One is the 'Zebra Grass' Miscanthus sinensis which I eventually plan to move somewhere else. The other is my 'Karl Foerster' Feather reed grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora) which I want more to plant in the garden. I'm definitely a fan of the purple seed heads that bloom in early summer rather than in the fall like many other ornamental grasses. I'm envisioning it as a small screen in front of the rain garden. Once you pass by the feather reed grass you will see the rest of the blooms bursting forth. At least that's the plan for now. Like the weather my plans are always subject to change.


If you want a powerful bloomer for a full sun location look for an achillea. They need almost zero maintenance and they are drought tolerant. One thing that makes it even better is that to this date I have never had one munched by a rabbit. Propagation og achilleas couldn't be simpler. Just take a sprig (offshoot) from the plant and place it under soil in the garden. I did this last fall and have had several nice looking plant ready for this year.

My achilleas come in two colors (there are many more), a pinkish-white or a mostly red with yellow highlights. I believe this one is called 'Paprika', aptly named don't you think?


If we hop over to the opposite side of the 'Paprika' yarrow we will find Rose campion (Lychnis coronaria). I think I found this at a plant swap but until started blooming this year I really didn't even know I had one! They tend to be spreaders but I think I can tolerate it since the flowers are so presentable!



I hope this garden will become a breeding ground for many of my favorite flowers like the coneflowers. These were all volunteers from the birdbath garden that I transplanted to the rain garden. I'll continue spreading the seeds as they form to create a nice balance between the feather reed grass and the purple coneflowers.
Around the base of the coneflowers you can see some coreopsis that survived the leaf beetle larvae attack. I like coreopsis, it takes a licking and keeps on tickseeding! (Please forgive the horrible pun!)

Here's a close-up on one of the coneflowers. It's a regular ol' purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) but I also have some from the big sky series elsewhere. One I even made from a basal stem cutting last year.


We'll end the tour with a summer flowering favorite in many gardens, rudbeckia! I wonder who this beetle is paying it a visit?

Scenes from the Self Sowing Garden

One of the projects I've been cultivating this year is my self-sowing garden. Part of the motivation for this garden is due to its location. Nearby is a gas utility line and I didn't want to plant anything here that I would feel bad about removing should the need arise, but I still wanted plants that looked great. Nearly every plant here is a self-sowing annual although I had to sneak in a few easy to come by perennials!  For today's Garden Blogger's Bloom Day please enjoy the photos of the self-sowing garden.

Here is a photo of the self-sowing garden from the arbor. In the forefront are red poppies that I started from seed early this spring.


Poppies have very interesting paper-like petals.


Here they are again from the other side of the garden.


You'll notice a blurry blue apparition in on the left hand side of the photo above. This is one of several larkspurs I planted. Hopefully they will continue to bloom and spread their seed around the garden. In the picture below is the same larkspur a little more in focus taken from the same location.

We can bask in the blue color spectrum a little longer with the 'Black and Blue' salvia. It's easy to see how it got its name with its nearly black stems and deep blue flowers.




The hummingbirds are said to like this salvia (I'm not sure there are any salvias they don't like) although I haven't seen one partake of this particular plant there is another plant nearby that is a sure fire hummingbird magnet.


This red flowering perennial penstemon is well loved by those little hummingbirds. Several times I've been outside in the early morning when a little bird comes zipping over take a sip of nectar.













Other Bloomers in the self-sowing garden are:


Monarda (bee balm)
 

Coreopsis 'Sunfire' (tickseed)


Rudbeckia 


And my personal favorite photo in this post,

Cosmos
This garden is in severe need of a weeding which I would like to accomplish this week.  Then I'll mulch around the base of plants that have already emerged and the self-sowing garden will be established! After the first year the plants should sow themselves and all I'll have to do is weed, and we all know that that's quite enough work to do!